Monday, January 31, 2005

Big Day in the Big Apple


After a rough and tumble week of packing and moving, I finally got my sorry carcass on Air Canada Flight 548 to JFK on Thursday and vegged all the way to New York...

... literally: on a lark, I ordered a vegetarian meal so I could get served before the rest of coach class and go to sleep. (They always serve the special meals first. That's also why I always take the window -- so I'm undisturbed. If you take the aisle or middle seat, you've always got people reaching over you or trying to shimmy past.)

It was the quickest Vancouver-New York flight I can remember. I was asleep at take-off, half-asleep through the three rounds of drink requests, just awake enough to feed myself the aforementioned veggie meal, and nodded off watching Being Julia (Annette Bening vehicle). Next thing I knew, we were in descent. Those five hours just disappeared into thin, high-altitude air!

I haven't written in here for a week, so I'll have to work my way backwards. I've uploaded some photos to Flickr of Friday in New York. David and I stayed at the Wolcott Hotel, which came highly recommended (our only post-stay endorsement is the lobby). On Friday we checked out as late as we possibly could so I could have a proper sleep, something I'd been missing for days. My plan was to visit the newly-renovated MoMa, but the Empire State Building was only a couple of blocks away, and the gorgeously sunny day beckoned us upwards.

David and the urban vultures
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

What time is it?
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Good timing! -- virtually no queues. Last time I'd gone up, the wait was interminable. This time, the visibility was as far as the eye could see, and when we stepped out the door on the 86th floor observation deck, I was surprised at how warm it was. I thought it would've been windier than that, but there were pigeons sunning themselves on the ledge. Took loads of pics of the pigeons, who went rabid when I took out a brownie from my pocket... they climbed on my arm, then David's when I handed over the goodies -- I didn't want to get shat on!

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
When we'd taken enough photos of downtown Manhattan, I thought we'd head to the north side of the deck so we could take some uptown shots. Guess where the wind was coming from? No wonder everyone was hanging out on the south side of the building. My hands froze in the time it took it get the camera out, so needless to say we didn't spend nearly as much time out there.

From the Empire State Building, it was straight on to MoMA. It occurred to me when we were in the taxi that NY cab fares are quite reasonable when you compare them to other major cities, which makes sitting in traffic less costly, if not any less frustrating. Thankfully I've not yet had to depend on a New York taxi for a timely journey.

MoMA - New York
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We arrived at MoMA in short order, less than $7 later, and discovered that we picked the ONE day it was open until 8pm. A good thing because we didn't make it there until after 3 o'clock, and we wouldn't have had enough time to see it otherwise. Even though the stipulation is full-time status, I used my SFU student card to obtain lower admission ($12 instead of $20!). I figured, how could they verify if I were full-time, anyway? Presumably there's some sort of designation on local university cards, but there isn't on the Canadian ones I've seen, although an ISIC card would take care of that. Thankfully, I didn't have to go that far. We were given the option to wait in the "cheapskate line" outside, because from 4:00-8:00 on Fridays, the museum is free. Normally, I would've been the first person to head outside to save us $32, except:

1) it was absolutely FRIGID outside
2) we were also starving (hunger + cold = cranky)
3) we wanted to maximise our time at MoMA without the bumper-car experience.

On our next visit, we thought we'd time it so we could take advantage of Friday night freebie hours; we'd be more efficient with our viewing because we would be more familiar with the exhibits. So, in this inaugural visit, we just took it easy. We headed to the bustling cafe on the 2nd floor and re-energised with Tuscan chickpea soup and paninis. (My latte was the best I've had in the East thus far.) The floor David and I were most interested in was just above -- Architecture and Design, and Photography. Our strategy was to head straight to the top, the sixth floor, and work our way down.

Some highlights on the Architecture and Design floor:

- chandelier made out of dinnerware
- acrylic (?) chair with flowers embedded in the seat (not very comfortable-looking, but beautiful)
- Art Nouveau, the style in which David designed our rings, and we're hoping to incorporate in decorative features for the wedding

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
I fought vertigo to take some photos of the vertical space in the middle of the museum. The railing consisted of only thin sheets of glass, which appeared even flimsier as David wiggled them with just his fingers and minimum pressure. I couldn't imagine the railing holding back anyone leaning heavily against it, and the thought of glass breaking and falling to the floors below sent me scurrying away.

I can't compare the newly-renovated MoMA to its location in Queens, since Queens was only ever a temporary space, and this one is permanent. The new space reminded me of the great white expanse of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, with its gleaming angularity broken by people in motion.

David and I stayed until MoMA closed at 8pm, visiting the store downstairs and MoMA's design store directly across the street. I bought some things for Eliza to thank her for helping me move, and David bought a Flex Vase I'd been eyeing and a chrome tangle.

MoMa photos on Flickr

Funnily enough, after I posted my MoMA photos to Flickr, it was brought to my attention that another Flickr member posted almost exactly the same shot, taken about half an hour before mine!

We'd left the car at an underground carpark around the corner from Hotel Wolcott for only $20 for 24 hours, so I suggested we have dinner nearby and pick the car up afterwards. I think most of the cab ride between MoMA and the parking garage was me holding onto the door and David holding onto me as the taxi driver's foot stomped to the floor. As we jostled around in the back, Mr. Cab Driver told us with bursting pride that he had two brothers in Philadelphia -- one a medical doctor and the other a dentist. We could only grunt agreeably, getting knocked about like pinballs. At least we got to our destination quickly.

Lucky for us, the block along 32nd street where we parked the car was also full of Korean and Japanese restaurants, so it was a matter of picking one. All of them were busy, and some were Zagat-rated, so I just picked the one that was rated and didn't have a queue out the door. The one where we ended up was mostly Korean with some Japanese fare, called Dae Dong. I was so distracted by the Engrish on the menu that I couldn't make up my mind what to order. Not to mention that Korean is probably the Asian cuisine I'm the least familiar with.

Some notable Engrishisms (I had to write them down):

- egg york
- withered peper
- rice in bowel
- grinded beef

There were more, but I felt compelled to take a red pen and circle these on my menu. But I was more compelled to eat, once the food arrived. And arrive it did! Lots of it! Within minutes our table was filled with small bowls of delights -- kimchi, slices of fresh apples and cucumber, thick rolls of pasta in a slightly sweet tomato sauce... it was delish. I was wondering if we'd even have room for the main attractions -- David's beef and my tofu and pork tenderloin in a hotpot. We were in eating heaven, and the bill was amazingly small, especially for Manhattan.

Sated, we picked up the car and drove around the corner for our luggage, which we'd stowed for all of 50 cents in lockers at the Wolcott. I had two enormous suitcases, ones I'd borrowed from David and Eliza (I never usually travel with anything more than carry-on bags), and we'd stuffed my notebook, briefcase, and two of David's bags in those lockers as well! So, all in all, a very economical day.

I'd been missing my PowerBook, so I flipped it open in traffic to see if I could steal bandwidth and check my e-mail. I had a long list of wireless networks, most of which were password-protected, but with some perseverance I managed to find one that wasn't secured and downloaded e-mail messages. Gotta love Wi-Fi. But alas, soon we were in the Lincoln Tunnel, and then I switched over to iTunes. I'm finally reaping the rewards of ripping my entire music collection to the PowerBook.

It wasn't long before I fell asleep -- once I write about what kind of week I've had, you'll understand why.

For a different perspective of the day, plus David's photos, read his journal entry on Multiply:


Winter at the House of Fielding

icy sky
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Winter. I'd postponed it for as long as I could. David wrote about it in his Multiply journal, so I knew what I was getting into:

Winter, finally

Here's an entry Jan 7th about the ice storm in the Poconos:

The Perfect (Ice) Storm

Yesterday we went shopping for some warm clothes for me, since I don't have much in the way of insulated materials -- besides body fat, that is, haha...

Ugh. Speaking of which, it's time to join the gym. This body hasn't seen the inside of the gym for a long, long time, and it shows. There's a place at the bottom of the hill (I suppose it's really a mountain we're on, though, by PA standards), but it's a ladies' gym (Curves, they're in BC, too). Oh well. The other option is the Jewish Community Centre (er, Center), which David prefers over the local Y, but it's not walking distance. Seems counterintuitive to have to drive to the gym.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

All Together Now - CHEESE!

All together now - CHEESE!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.
The five MJE's as of Thursday. They're moving Feb 1, hence the boxes in the background.

Heather and HyperKitty

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Hung out with Heather for the evening, which included:

- some pre-dinner errand-running for me (post office and Staples)
- Gyoza King
- a pitstop at the revolving Cloud 9 restaurant atop the Landmark Hotel on Robson Street
- Mondo Gelato
- finishing off with a tour of her new house -- which I'll never see again since she's going to Korea next month to set up an ESL school!

Heather was amazed by my restraint in the matter of the Dessertworks chocolate bar that Karl gave to me on New Year's Day in Seattle to pass on to her. It managed to last three whole weeks in my possession with nary a nibble. Which is more than can be said for the other two bars, only one of which was gifted to me. The other was for Socar, whose indulgences run more along the lines of candied ginger rather than chocolate. I... um... ate it on Socar's behalf, but have yet to procure the substituted candied ginger, and the clock is ticking! Less than 6 days left!

Phone Secks*

phone secks*
Originally uploaded by dotpolka.
Click it for Flickr comments.

* Didn't want to draw the pervs to this blog, ya know?

Friday, January 21, 2005

False Creek

Originally uploaded by thelastminute.
On Flickr, I noticed a photo of False Creek at an angle I hadn't seen before. If you click on it, you'll see I've added a note marking my highrise.

I like the lighting on this shot, too. Go check out Duncan's other photos.

Of Pleasures Gustatory

Mamy's Bar, Lake Lugano
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
I had dinner with my friend Vicky at Banana Leaf on Denman Street last night. Malaysian cuisine: all I can say is m-m-m-m-m-m..... we had roti, calamari with chili sauce, and I had a curry chicken. It brought me back to my time in Malaysia and eating at street vendors, waiting until after 4pm to eat murtabak. (I don't know why they made us wait until then, but it was worth it.)

I'd travelled with two Germans, a guy from Richmond, and a Dutch girl to Malaka from Mersing to celebrate Chinese New Year's, and afterwards the Dutch girl and I hitch hiked to Kuala Lumpur. What an interesting experience... but another post, I think. Marjke was the one who put me onto murtabak, but how to describe it? I've not had it since, but the roti I'd had at Banana Leaf was pretty close. This was a long time ago, but I recall roti pastry, with a (tumeric? tamarind?)-based curry sauce and potatoes. Not overbearingly spicy, but a sauce that begs to be eaten with great gusto, leaving warm tingles in your belly.

Speaking of things gustatorial, I uploaded a few of my favourite Swiss photos from a trip in 2002, one of which was the blue-lit bar at Mamy's in Lake Lugano. My friend Berit had taken the train from Munich, where she'd been at a business meeting, and I drove north to Zurich so she could join me on my road trip. We'd just driven all day through the mountains from Saas Fee (Alps) and were ready for some liquid comfort. We decided to stay at Lake Lugano, and Mamy's Bar was across the street from our hotel. I loved the blue lighting under the bar and took out my camera to shoot it, eliciting a hissed "put that away!!" from Berit (who has never quite understood my compulsive desire to photograph).

Dine Out Vancouver 2005

Dine Out Vancouver 2005
It's that time of year again, and I'll be here for part of it. Yay! In the seasonal lull that is January-February, restaurants can participate in a fixed-price menu program that is promoted by Tourism Vancouver: 3 courses for either $15, $25, or $35. It's the third year Vancouver has put it on (I think in Manhattan they called it 25-for-25 or something like that), and its popularity encourages more restaurants to participate each year. Currently there are 125 on the roster, which is a great deal more than the original number back in 2003. Nevertheless, even back then I had to strategise to get into the restaurants I wanted to try (I also vaguely recall it ran for only one week). Most of them don't take reservations during this time, and are extremely busy. I remember having to phone around to nearly every participating restaurant in the city centre to get eight of us a table, and we lucked out at Brix in Yaletown. I also tried out the Renaissance Hotel Harbourside's revolving restaurant, Vistas, and Wild Rice for $15. Back then $35 wasn't an option -- even the high-end restaurants offered their dinners for $25 -- but it appears people less stingy than yours truly consider $35 for a three-course dinner a bargain. (Actually so do I, grudgingly. Most entrees alone average $25 at the poshier spots. At Il Giardino I paid nearly $20 for a small salad.) For Dine Out Vancouver, I like to try hotel restaurants. These are the ones I frequent the least, and would most like to try.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Projects are Killing Me

So as you may or may not know, I'm moving residence in a week to Pennsylvania. What this entails, besides the standard-issue moving malarkey, is that in preparation for this 4,000km transfer I've created all these little projects that -- in aggregate -- amount to a full-time flippin' job!

The most excruciating one I did detail last week, but there have been more.

I had this idea to create a postcard that served multiple purposes:

- wish our friends and families a Happy New Year
- inform people that I'm moving and my new address
- show photos of ourselves, the plane, Hugh the cat, venues, the rings, etc.
- give preliminary information about the wedding (dates, venues)

That's a LOT of information to cram into a postcard, let me tell you!! David and I collaborated on the design, as we did with the rings, and came up with this:

January 2005 postcard
I wanted to wait a bit for people to receive the postcard, but then I realised that most of the recipients don't know this blog exists, and those who do probably have it by now.

I took all of the photographs, except for the plane (David, who took that photo?), and he took the one of Tripp House. I haven't seen Tripp House yet, only the photographs David e-mailed to me. David Photoshopped the pictures into the layout, and formatted it for my Canon photo printer. I printed the cards out, and sat in cafes and wrote, wrote, wrote... until my hand felt like it was going to fall off and I had shooting pains in my right shoulder. After I'd posted them all, I went through the list and counted 70 postcards, and of those, 5 of them were full-fledged letters... that's the problem when you're behind in correspondence -- there's simply too much to say!! I'm usually pretty good with keeping in touch with people, but I was feeling guilty over Christmas, receiving cards from people with photos of their kids I'd neglected to send congratulatory birth announcements for, people who I'd been meaning to inform that I'm engaged, people who got married, people who had "just" moved into their new house half a year ago! I had a stack of cards I'd purchased just for those occasions, for those people, sitting on a shelf that is no longer here because my furniture's all been moved. So of course I had to root around for them, so that I could include this postcard and give them the full allotment of news. For anyone who's received a postcard from me, it's well-known I fill up every bit of white space available, so writing 70 postcards means writer's cramp!!

Another project I've been working on is burning my entire music collection to my PowerBook and then copying them to my iPod. (It's what inspired me to create that movie of the kids' puppet show, because I'd come across a CD single I'd purchased while living in the U.K. of a song used in one of my favourite Guiness adverts, Guaglione by the Perez Prado Orchestra.) So far I'm on stack four of six CDs, but it's a fairly passive process, not the painful one that is re-uploading archived photos, formatting, and fixing bad code.

Ever gone through your music collection in its entirety? It's wacky. First of all, you'll come across music you won't even remember having, let alone buying. I have a fair number of compilations, and I found about a dozen songs that cut across them. I know it's been a long time since I've gone through my music, because it's been a long time since I've made a CD for a friend, something I used to do with some regularity. Except most of the time I did it the hard way -- CD to tape, because I only acquired a CD burner a few years ago, when the office bought one for my home machine. (Remember the days of tape-to-tape compilations? OUCH! Or, even worse -- making my own tapes off RADIO broadcasts in grade school... DOUBLE OUCH!!!)

Actually, I did make a CD for a friend a year ago, but since it was a cat theme, I trawled the music download sites instead of my music collection for the songs I wanted -- I knew I didn't have many (any?) cat-themed songs. Cat Stevens, that's about it. Oh, and Tom Jones' What's New Pussycat? I wanted to copy my entire music collection so I won't care so much if the CDs get damaged in shipping, or I can leave them with a friend to take with me on a later trip. I can also use the music to make more iMovies, for friends or for web publishing. It's definitely one of the more pleasurable projects.

One of the things I like to buy when I'm in a foreign country is local music. Or, at least music that is available there and new to me. I find prices in Europe and even the U.S. (with the exchange rate), a lot more expensive than in Vancouver (sometimes 3x), so I try to be selective. Which is not easy when you don't know what you're buying and there aren't any listening stations, but part of the excitement is finding great music that I wouldn't know about otherwise. So yes, it's definitely worth archiving my music collection, I keep telling myself after I import CD after CD into iTunes. It does bring back a lot of memories and I wouldn't know where to start trying to make a mental inventory of it all!

Thankfully, four years ago I spent three whole days in my apartment organising my photo collection. My word, was that ever a project. I don't think I left the apartment those three days; I was surrounded by hills and vales of photographs. One day I'll scan them all, but at least they're in some semblance of order now. If I'd had to do that this month, I would've started crying!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Damn! Now *that's* Progress!

Too funny...

Fancy's commentary on the Spanish Catholic Church endorsing condom usage.

Wanna see why I should never go into Marketing?

Go bookmark Fancy's blog. She's underappreciated up there in Edmonton.

MJE Productions Presents... Message in a Bucket

turn up your speakers!
This was a videoclip I made last August that I selected randomly from my hard drive to turn into a movie. I haven't made a movie clip in months, and I had this sudden urge to play with iMovie. (Oh, and of course it had to be at 3:30 in the morning or something like that. That seems to be my usual time of day for video and music editing.)

The kids were giving a puppet show, and I was holding Megan on my lap and filming with the other hand. She was not only the guest star, she was a critic and part of the audience. Tough job, being in show biz...

It was the first time I really fiddled around with iMovie, so it's pretty rough. No doubt I'll improve as I go along. After all, the last movie editing software I used was Quicktime Pro, and that requires a lot of fiddling. iMovie has a lot more features, but it'll take me a while to figure them all out.

Winter Sunset

Winter sunset
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
A lovely photo David took yesterday. In eight days, I'll be back in Pennsylvania.

(It's warmed up considerably here in Vancouver. The unusual cold spell we've been having has broken and the snow is gone, replaced by rivers of rain.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Twins are Nearly One!

Meggy on the run

Megan and Maribeth, nearly 1
I was over at Allan and Cheryl's place for the evening, helping my dad and stepmum babysit the five kidlets. I hadn't seen them for a couple of weeks due to illnesses, so when I came through the door, I was mobbed by the older three. The babies stared at me, then grinned widely.

We used the LCD projector from Allan's workplace to watch DVDs -- or "wall movies" as the kids call them. I fiddled around with Allan's Dell for a while before giving up entirely and using my PowerBook... Maddy kept swatting me because I was ruining her Winnie the Pooh trailers by messing around with dialogue boxes. The child is really impatient and cranky, so tread lightly with her when there's computer equipment within her reach!

Getting the kiddies to bed was a real challenge. There were simply too many non-parental units around for amusement, and all calls for bedtime were met with a chorus of "No!!!!!" Melissa, as the eldest of the Ms, has her stalling tactics down pat; her trademark (at least with me) is, "I'm thirsty. I need to get some water." Then she dawdles, and chats endlessly to you while she's doing it. I mentioned vaguely something about her needing a haircut, and she jumped at the chance to stretch things out as much as possible and postpone bedtime. She wanted to take a shower "like a grownup" and use the bath brush... if I relent, it's something else. Next thing I know, it's 9:30!!

While the kids pretended to be sleeping, I showed my dad and Sophie videos on my PowerBook, projected onto the wall. My earliest digital videos were from 2002, but my Canon A30 had no sound and only 10 seconds or so of video, so I skipped to 2003. Wow, did we ever laugh... before the kids went to bed, they saw the little movie I made called "Maribeth, Baby of a Thousand Expressions" and they giggled uncontrollably at their favourite clip, a video I made of my friend's rat Stella. They love the music and sing along to "da da da"... they must've seen it a thousand times, and yet it never fails to amuse.

When Allan and Cheryl came home, I had to leave right away to return my co-op car, but Allan mentioned before I took off that their last night out without the kids was Valentine's Day, nearly one year ago!

The Stepho's Phenomenon

Regular queuing at Stepho's
Click on this weblink and see what it looks like in front of Stepho's Greek restaurant on Davie St. -- on a regular basis.

I don't get it. It's a Greek restaurant, surrounded by other Greek restaurants that are just as good, if not better (at moussaka, anyway, my benchmark). It's not as if their prices are significantly less than the other restaurants, either. Takis Taverna is only a few doors away, and there's another Greek place across the street, and one across the street on the next block! I've eaten at Stepho's before, and it's average. Overwhelmingly unremarkable. Yet, practically every day, year in year out, there is a queue of people outside their door. Is there a Stepho's demographic? Where do these people come from? Sometimes I just want to survey them randomly to ask why they would wait outside for an eternity to eat Greek food in a neighbourhood full of Greek restaurants? What's the draw? Have these people never tried Greek food? Are they tourists bussed in from the Greekless environs of the GVRD? Was there a drug pulverised into their lamb souvlaki last time? These same questions run through my brain every time I have to jostle my way past the queuers on the sidewalk in front of Stepho's when I take that side of the street. They even had a fire a couple of years ago and shut for at least a month... when it reopened, the queues resumed! Whatever did these people do when Stepho's was closed? Did they queue up in front of their nearest McDonald's?

I'm about to leave Vancouver, and those questions remain unanswered. They're burning a hole in my brain today because it started to SNOW again, and I shook my head watching the Stepho's queuers shivering and stomping their feet to keep warm while they waited. Suckers.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Donate Your Shoppers Optimum Points to Charity

Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points Donation Program
I was at Shoppers Drug Mart earlier tonight, and when I was at the counter there was a sign that said points could be donated online to charity. As of January 12, more than $677,000 was raised this way for the Canadian Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund!

I've always wondered what to do with my Optimum points. I carry around all these cards and make sure I whip 'em out to collect whatever I can (I flew to London last April on the Airmiles program), but I usually participate in programs to get airline tickets. As far as merchandise is concerned, only now and again does it motivate me to participate. Shoppers Drug Mart on Davie Street is just up the hill from the apartment, and much closer than London Drugs (which I actually prefer), so I end up there more often. Also because there's a post office in the store, and that's the outlet where I have to pick up larger packages that don't fit through my letter slot. (The carriers usually ring my bell and save me the trouble... bless 'em.) So, I've been passively racking up the points, but now I can offload them to my preference over merchandise -- charity.

[Now, if I can only do that through Safeway -- I must've collected a bajillion of their Club points by now and never used them towards anything. I see that Telus Mobility offered a choice of several reward options over Christmas -- I believe the options were 1) credit towards Telus Puretracks (the online music store before iTunes opened up in Canada), or 2) something too boring to remember, or 3) to donate $20 to one of the charities on the list. I think I chose an arts and learning-oriented progam... I can't find the link (or much else in this apartment), otherwise I'd post it.]

Friday, January 14, 2005

2 Weeks Left in Vancouver

new MoMA

Wolcott Hotel
I finally booked my flight to New York last night -- I leave January 27, in two weeks. I still have a lot to do, but at least I've got a date to work around. I wanted to hang out in the city, so David decided to take Friday the 28th off. I'm eager to see the renovated MoMa in Manhattan; I last visited when it was in Queens, from June 2002 to September 2004. The new facility officially opened its doors on November 20. I figure if we go on Friday, it won't be as busy as on the weekend proper.

We also got a good deal on a hotel that's received excellent reviews: The Wolcott Hotel. We'll try it out and see if it's as good value as the guests have rated it. For the location and amenities, it's a real bargain on paper.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Winter in Vancouver

Canada Place
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is the closest I've ever felt to winter in Vancouver -- there's been snow on the ground for more than 24 hours! This time, it's been hanging around for 6 days!

It first snowed on the 6th, and that day I was thinking it snowed around the same time last January as well. I would've put a link to the archive, except I was still fixing broken picture links. Turns out the first snow of 2004 was exactly one year ago, on January 6:

Snowstorm in Vancouver! - Jan 6, '04

But 24 hours later, it was gone, after warmer temperatures turned it into rain, typical winter weather in Vancouver. People complain a lot about the rain, especially transplants from the rest of Canada, where a snowy winter is the norm and the skies are often brighter, as well as colder. The way I see it, you don't have to shovel rain... (I'm trying to postpone, if not shorten, my first shovelling season in Pennyslvania.)

I had some errands to run today downtown. While I sat at the bank, waiting for forms to print out, I watched seaplanes land and cargo ships cruise by in Coal Harbour. It was clear skies today, with a chilly wind. Even the seaplanes were wobbling on the descent, but the view from high up was brilliant, certainly.

I happened to have my camera with me, so I headed over to Canada Place to take some shots. View all photos here:

A Fine Day in Coal Harbour

North shore, Coal Harbour
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

hardy flowers
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Winter, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, is a hard season to get through. Christmas can make it more bearable to some degree for those who find it meaningful (or at least if you anticipate a Christmas bonus), but come January, Seasonal Depression Disorder (SAD) may set in, or post-holiday blues, or an intense dislike for winter, or any of a number of seasonal depressants that accompany the beginning of the year. I know of people who are trying to get through challenging times right now. You know who you are. Add to that the natural disasters of late, in different parts of the world, and there are plenty of reasons why people wish these times would pass quickly. For the majority of us non-clairvoyant types, 2005 still has 11.5 months of future ahead, so there is plenty of year left for hope and promise.

Painstaking (oh the pain)

I've been working on fixing my archives for what seems like forever now, but I feel like I'm making some progress -- I'm nearly at the end of 2003 (I'm working backwards). It's EXCRUCIATING. I've tried to compile a list of what I've been doing:

- re-uploading old photos to Hello, copying the code and pasting it into archived posts (then I have to delete the code from the current page afterwards -- ugh)
- creating keyboard shortcuts for formatting tags in w.bloggar so I don't have to manually code
- fixing bad code (I've been teaching myself HTML/css/etc. as I go along, so I've left a trail of bad code)
- making changes to the template -- updating, modifying, deleting
- formatting and reformatting as I go along...

I've been messing around with this blog since July 2002, and learning new things over time. Every time I learn something new, I try and go back into archives and implement what I've learned to maintain consistency, but it's more often the case that I've had other priorities screaming for attention... consequently, there were oodles of bad code in there that I can only check if I edit within Blogger, which I find clunky so generally avoid. Some of it was because I started out with bad code that I'd created a keyboard shortcut for, eg. [target=_blank"] instead of [target="_blank"], so the site was littered with it. Or, I hadn't learned text formatting yet, and I was using variations of something I'd seen once, and it wasn't what I wanted, but close enough at the time. In short, I created a hell of a lot of work for myself!!

Early on, I hadn't figured out how to use titles in Blogger, so I was just making headers formatted to look like titles. Then once I'd figured out how to make archive indexes for the current page, of course the index of titles was blank... *sigh* I had to create titles for a year's worth or more of posts.

From working on all the archives, a few things struck me:

1) I've taken the kids out A LOT... I haven't counted how many times we've been to Science World, or the Aquarium, Maplewood Farm, False Creek, Laity Farm, the beach, and various playgrounds all over the Lower Mainland, but we've hit the road more times than I've obviously remembered!

2) Working full-time and being a full-time student when you're single is hard. I don't recommend it to anyone. It's rewarding, but nobody sees how hard you work, you tough it out alone when you're sick, you can't stop working because there's no one else to pay the bills, and sometimes you're too tired to give a sh*t... so many of my entries are about being tired,

3) I've travelled more since I've moved to this apartment than ever before. When I was working overseas, except for working as an assistant manager at one youth hostel, the money was nothing to write home about. Living in the U.K. is expensive, so I didn't travel as often, or as far, as I do now. In Australia I worked small jobs, so I seldom splurged, in order to save for the next destination. I did a lot of outdoorsy stuff when I first moved here to Beach Avenue -- camping, hiking, mountain biking, and road trips all-year round, then more long-haul touring. Travel is my big-ticket item, definitely -- I only bought my first computer in 2000. Now I'm a geek! But I'll still travel!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Wedding Venues

The wedding venues are booked and deposits have been paid. I'm glad we're sticking with our original ideas, much like the wedding and engagement rings, because it goes along with our historical themes. The rings were designed in an Art Nouveau style, and I wanted to have the wedding and receptions in heritage houses. We'll have about 100 people in each venue. There will even be a few people at BOTH venues! (Besides us, of course!)

Tripp House
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Date: Saturday, October 1, 2005

Interior and exterior pics of Tripp House - Scranton, PA

David got a lead on the Tripp House after I flew to Vancouver. I almost gave in when we looked at the Stroudsmoor Inn, because Lawnhaven is a great venue -- lots of glass, one level, garden, and a large expanse of lawn, not to mention they do everything for you, but now that I have more time, I'd much rather do it all myself. It means more, and I have more creative control. I can save us money, too. There were a few big problems with this venue, the biggest was that it was only available October 9, not October 1 when we wanted it, and that's over a Jewish holiday. So, the Stroudsmoor was put on hold. Thankfully, David was given the name of the Tripp House, which is a non-profit foundation, so our rental would be helping to keep the heritage house running. This way we can choose our own caterers, decorations, and have the ceremony out on the lawn (we'd probably hire a tent, though, just in case). It's in Scranton, so we could board people at the house, and if we need more space there's an inexpensive hotel at the bottom of the hill. I haven't seen it yet, but from David's photos, it looks like it would fit the numbers we're thinking of, we get the date we wanted, and his favourite seafood restaurant, Cooper's, is one of the caterers the Tripp House deals with!

I pinched this off a site:

This picturesque home, with its wide verandah and gingerbread trim, actually dates to 1778 and is the county's oldest residence. It was built by Isaac Tripp II, son of the town's first settler. In the early 19th century, the home got a Federal-style makeover, and towards the end of the century, it was reworked in Victorian tastes.

Aberthau House
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Date: Saturday, October 8, 2005

Interior and exterior pics of Aberthau House - Vancouver, BC

Aberthau House isn't nearly as old as Tripp House, but for a city as new as Vancouver, it's still considered a heritage house. It has a more open floor plan than Tripp House, and I think it will be easier to decorate. For one thing, we won't have to hire a tent because it's a reception -- the ceremony will be in Scranton. We won't need to use the grounds, and the biggest expense will be the catering. My cousin Tosca has a binder of information that she kept from her wedding in 2003, and I'm thinking of using her caterers.

Flight Research

In my flight research of the past day, I've noticed that January is my typical month to blitz my list of travel sites. As in years past, I look to April for my Great Escape -- that precious term break between Winter and Summer semesters at university. Most people search for flights in January to get away from winter and head south to warmer climes, but for me it's my ticket to sweet sanity, something to look forward to when I'm hunched over my keyboard, finishing papers, or trying to get through reading material that will evaporate from my brain the instant I write the exam. When deadlines loom, I find comfort in the Easyjet or Ryanair flight I've booked to Italy or Paris or Barcelona or Dublin, and start counting down the days. I try and maximise my time off, too, usually scheduling the flight to London (I fly the discount carriers around Europe, it's cheaper) the day after my last exam, and returning right before I'm due back at work. It's hairy scheduling that would put most people off, but I thrive on that way of travel.

This is the first January in three years where I am not restricted by exam dates, and it's not a Great Escape from academic life. I'm not going to Europe this April, either; I'm honeymooning there in October. Nope, I'm going to... the Philippines.

How long has it been since I've been to the motherland? June 1984, so that would be nearly 21 years. Why haven't I gone since then? Oh, many, many reasons. But everyone is getting older, not just me, and my father has buried a few of his many siblings recently. The matriarch of the family, Auntie Jane, passed away one year ago today, in her mid-80s. For every reason why I don't go, there are mounting reasons to go. Now that I'm on a short hiatus from university, and I'm self-employed, there are fewer barriers, and it's a good a time to go as any. My father is, understandably, very pleased to hear this. His family is enormous, and I have more cousins than I can keep track of -- only a few of the siblings moved to North America, and the rest are in the Philippines. I'd promised him the year before that I would go in April 2005, and last month it was doubtful I would go because of wedding costs, but after some thought I decided the time has come to finally visit. No more excuses. I'm planning to go for at least four weeks.

Older photos of the Edwin family

I plugged in some options for my flight, hoping that I could maybe purchase the difference in Aeroplan miles, but it looks like Air Canada -- surprise surprise -- upped its mileage requirement for Asia to 95,000 from 90,000. Currently, I have about 65,000, but at 4c per Aeroplan mile it would be the same price to buy the difference than it would be to buy the ticket outright and keep the mileage.

My options:

1) JFK to Manila with China Airlines, for about CAD 1,200
2) fly to Vancouver, then YVR to Manila with Philippine Airlines, for about CAD 1,200
3) look for deals from San Francisco, LA, or Seattle, pending cheap flight from New York or Pennsylvania.

So far, option #1 is the best deal. It's a long flight -- 20+ hours there, via Anchorage and Tapei, and 24+ hours return -- and I will finally break my longstanding record of not exceeding $1,000 for an air ticket. For all the flights I've done, this is no mean feat, since my average flight has been around 10 hours. L.A. to Sydney is still my non-stop record: 12.5 hours across the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver to Amsterdam is about 11, Auckland to Singapore was 9, Bangkok to London took stinking forever (thanks Balkan Airlines!), and even Vancouver to London is around 9.5 hours. Until I started dating someone in Calgary in 2003, I hadn't even flown domestically -- all my flights were either due south (San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas, San Diego, Mexico) or southeast (Chicago, New York) within North America. I fly cheap, too, I've always managed to get pretty good deals on flights, so I'm hoping this won't be any different. I tried earlier to find a deal down the coast, but nothing I could find for SFO or LAX or SEA could beat the fare from YVR. I'm going to have to keep searching if I want to keep my under-a-grand record intact.

In more encouraging news, I found a cheap Tango (Air Canada) non-stop flight from Vancouver to JFK for $159 one-way. There are no restrictions for this fare that I can see, and David's immigration lawyer says my 90-day limit to stay in the U.S. as a Canadian should pose no hindrance to me at the border. (He's American, though, it's not like he's ever had to face U.S. Customs during harsh questioning.) I might just take the Tango fare, as it has a $30 fee for unlimited changes, as opposed to the $75+tax change fee imposed by Cathay Pacific and payable only at the airport. Also, with that YVR-JFK Cathay Pacific flight, I have a one-month maximum stay rule, which is why I returned to Vancouver Dec 13 (I flew Nov 13, and we had to let the mid-December Delta flight that David purchased for me go by the wayside).

David's corresponding entry in Multiply: The China Clippers

Sunday, January 09, 2005


This morning my father and brothers came out to Vancouver to move my furniture over to Allan's house, in preparation for their move to a co-op townhouse on Feb 1. Now all my stuff is sitting on the floor, except for one shelf in the living room that's going to Eliza, plus the computer table and office chair. Oh, and the IKEA rollaway bed that I'm sleeping on. All the shelving, my futon couch/bed, and the pine entertainment unit are out of the apartment, so it's bare bones now. I was going to sell my VCR and microwave, since everyone I know has those (who wants a VCR these days, anyways?), but my father said he'd take it. He wasn't going to take the microwave just yet, but I said, "Ah, that's OK, I won't use it." But what did I get at the corner store for dinner? Oops, frozen pasta. I know I can warm it in the oven, but who would heat up a whole oven just for a handful of frozen microwaveable pasta??

I was tempted to buy jalapeno and cream cheese poppers (see food post, two previous), but I had french fries with my sandwich today instead!

I'm going to miss that corner store. Well, it's not really on the corner, but it's very close and very convenient. It also has a decent selection of films, as convenience stores go (at least when it's not snowing) -- I've rented lots of independent movies there. The neighbourhood in Pennsylvania has no corner store -- the closest store is at the bottom of the hill (there's no shoulder for pedestrians), across a highway. See here for an aerial pic. Maybe I should get flourescent tape for my coat, or one of those blinking lights so I can be seen at night? How naff! I'll look like one of those crossing guards at school!

The Stepford Wives

It's been a long time since I referenced Mr. Cranky, but as soon as I saw this film, I knew I had to go see what he wrote about it. I was a little disappointed -- I wanted him to be the acerbic, caustic, cranky wit that I remember, but maybe he was having an up day when he wrote it! Haha! Read it, anyway...

Mr. Cranky's Review of The Stepford Wives

I can't help it, though, I LOVE LOVE LOVE social satire. This one's kinda weak, but worth a rental. There are some pretty good one-liners, but despite a strong cast, there were only a few things that saved this film for me:

- Jew jokes
- gay jokes
- Glenn Close

Glenn Close's character, Claire: "Where would people never notice a town full of robots? Connecticut!"

I usually like Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick's work, but Nicole Kidman's dialect slips in her American films is rather distracting, and Matthew Broderick is so typecast in this film it makes me wince. I liked him in Election, but he plays the emasculated male a little too often. I wanted to see him in The Producers on Broadway just to disassociate him with the wussy characters. Maybe I should just watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off again... for the 150th time (that was in high school, by the way!). Glenn Close, on the other hand, is consistently brilliant. She's like Meryl Streep -- can play any character. Glenn Close does 'lunatic' just as well as 'diva' or 'mother'... I can't see anyone else playing her character in The World According to Garp.

Meryl Streep's best work, however, seems to be pre-1990s, eg. Sophie's Choice. It's all about the tears with Meryl these days, isn't it?

The Hours (2002)
Music of the Heart (1999)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)
Marvin's Room (1996)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

One of the reasons I rented The Stepford Wives today -- besides the fact that the weather conditions left slim pickin's in the DVD selection at my corner store -- is because I flipped through a copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine over lunch today at the cafe across the street. Also because the antihistamine that I'd taken was kicking in, and I was as woozy as hell. Too woozy to continue my blog archive updating. I was in this zone between OD'ing on sleep, but too delirious to think properly.

I never got into Martha Stewart anything -- I was overseas during her meteoric rise to fame, but couldn't identify with wanting to be "the perfect hostess" or "the perfect homemaker". I've never aspired to be the "perfect wife" or the "perfect mother", either. I've only seen one episode of Martha Stewart's show, but laughed at the satirical SNL sketches about her. A couple of months ago someone in Pennsylvania told me about the magazine to help me prepare for the wedding. This well-meaning lady was very enthusiastic about Martha Stewart, telling me that Martha built her career in the area, etc. etc. etc., and my eyes glazed over. All I could think of was *ding*ding*ding* Stepford Wife! Stepford Wife! Stepford Wife! I will not be a Stepford Wife! It's like my worst nightmare!

Food You Love, But Doesn't Love You Back

In reading Tanya's blog, I came across this reference to poutine, heart-attack-inducing food native to Quebec. I first tried it in Banff, which has probably the largest per-capita population of French-Canadians anywhere west of Quebec. I've had it elsewhere, but it was nowhere near as addictive as the stuff I had in Banff. It's simple fare: french fries, cheese curds, and gravy, but it is possible to make bad poutine, as I discovered at Burger King. Don't try BK poutine and think it's poutine! It's not!

Poutine joins other food in the category I Iike to call "Food You Love, But Doesn't Love You Back". Other items in this category include:

- jalapeno and cream cheese poppers (you can get them with cheese, but cream cheese tastes better)
- bacon-wrapped scallops
- bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
- heck, BACON!
- let's not forget french fries!
- Bavarian smokie dogs
- buttermilk waffles
- hot wings
- cheese fondue (I especially liked the regional kinds I had in Switzerland, eg. vacherin from Fribourg, moitié-moitié in Neuchâtel)

I'm sure I'll think of more as the day goes on. Writing while I'm hungry helps me to think of food, but writing about it is making me hungrier!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

A New Look for the New Year

I'm taking advantage of the fact that it's STILL SNOWING outside (this has got be some kind of record) and trying to get over this full-blown cold by giving my site a bit of a New Year's makeover. I'm sneezing, blowing my nose, and have watery eyes, so I'm staying away from people.

I thought Breigh's suggestion of "Gail Interrupted" was funny (see previous post), except I'd probably change it again in a month, and I haven't even seen "Girl Interrupted" (although I'm curious about it). I started on the tedious task of fixing broken links and adding titles to archives from 2002, but I was starting to feel like I was spinning my wheels because it took literally HOURS to finish three months' worth of posts. I'd done all that work, but nothing to show for it, because the site looked exactly the same!

The first thing I did was recruit David, who's still suffering from bronchitis there in Pennsylvania, to come up with a new masthead. (What a taskmaster I am!) We got on AOL IM to discuss different looks -- which photo to use, font, etc. (Ugh, I loathe everything AOL, but it's the only chat program he can use on his home NT machine.) It doesn't have quite the font I wanted (old typewriter style), but it will do for a while. David says he's got those fonts at work, but it's the weekend already.

Some of the major changes I've made include putting links in the side panel. I signed up for a blogrolling account yonks ago, but I've always felt ambivalent about blogrolling. Should I blogroll my friends? Should I blogroll people I enjoy reading, but have never met? Finally, I bit the bullet and just added most of the blogs I read into the "bloggage" section, a mixture of friends, family, and acquaintences. Some of them are people I just like to read. Some I've met or come to know through Orkut, the social networking site through which I also met David. At the end of this month Orkut will be one year old. It's still free, it's still invitation-only, it's still in beta. For all its bugs and annoyances, it has been instrumental to me (and many others) for what it was set up to do: provide a social network. There are other sites, such as Multiply and dotnode, that received a large migration of people who left Orkut because of all its many server problems. I have profiles up in Multiply and dotnode, too (I'm "gailontheweb" there, too), but I use them less frequently. I'm the moderator for the Vancouver community in Orkut, and I'm a member of many other communities, like Hemingway's Code (the community where I first saw David's posts), TV Sucks, iPod, Photo Vancouver, Vancouver Eats, All Things Filipino, and just plain silly ones like What's in Your Fridge? and Awkward Elevator Exchanges. I don't post in them nearly as frequently as before, but I like to pop in from time to time and read.

One site that I went to from Orkut that I use all the time now is I love this site! I recognised the Flickr creators from Orkut, and have seen Flickr grow from a small photo-sharing site to a feature-rich site where the developers are very responsive to user input. I went Pro the day it was offered, and look forward to seeing where they go from here. Because I'm using a Mac full-time, Flickr is the only way I can upload my photos to my blog, so I have a vested interest in seeing them improve, but regardless of which OS I'm using I intend to use Flickr most, if not all the time. One reason why I'm still using Hello by Picasa to upload my older archives on this blog is because I don't want to spend a lot of time uploading older digital photos to Flickr -- I want people to look at newer photos. I bought my first digital camera in the spring of 2002, not long before I started this blog, and I was still learning how to use the camera properly. The photos weren't that bad, but most of them were just quick snaps of the three older munchkins. Using Hello is still quicker for uploading to the blog, since I don't have to title or tag the photo for organisational purposes, which I do in Flickr, since they're under my account. Hello only hosts the photos under Blogger -- I don't have access to them other than clicking to them from my blog. In Flickr, it's about ownership, in Hello, it's about convenience.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Even More Snow Today!

even more snow today!
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Oy! What's with the snow!

I just returned from lunch with my friend Tom, and we had our share of sliding around downtown in his new Subaru. We slid around Burrard Street, and we slid down Thurlow Street to Beach Avenue. On the way down, there was a Honda that sidled none-too-gently up against a FedEx truck, much to the irritation of the FedEx driver.

I was feeling a bit of loss today, as I handed over my plants to Tom. One of them was a tree that I'd rescued from the garbage and repotted. It thrived to the point where I had to prune it, very reluctantly, after it started to take over the living room. Another plant was a small tree I bought in its infancy not long after I moved in. I remember back in '98 my friend Marc commented on how great it looked in its green, Vietnamese-style pot. The vine I'd acquired much, much later, but it had wound its way around the doorframe and made the area near the kitchen homier. Plants are living things, so it's natural to get a bit attached to them after you've tended and watched them grow for years.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Excuse the Mess

I'm messing around with the code on the site. Archiving has botched things up, so I might as well take this opportunity to change the code, not just fix it. And fix those broken links. *sigh*

This might take a while.

First Snow of the Year!

first snow!
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is such a strange sight, but I seem to recall it snowed once last year in January, as well. It'll be gone by morning, probably.

More on the folly that is Vancouver with snow.

Lady of the Rings

I forgot to take a photo of the completed wedding and engagement rings together when David was here, so I tagged all the rings and drawings in Flickr so you get a composite photo.

heirloom ring, in the sky
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is the heirloom ring I wore when the rings were being drawn up. What I didn't know at the time was that it was David's grandmother's 50th anniversary ring that replaced her wedding and engagement rings. When I found that out (and how much it was worth), I stopped wearing it.

The Doorknocker
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is the doorknocker ring that was taken apart for the stones that make up our new rings. Just one look and you'll see why I didn't wear it. I could take somebody's eye out with that!

ring drawings
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
David's drawings. When we first went to the jewellers, I didn't like anything I saw... anywhere! Engagement rings are set too high for me, and I wanted something less ostentatious. Finding a ring that didn't go BLING BLING was more difficult than I'd thought, and in my mind I formed a general idea of what I wanted to wear. I tried explaining it to the salespeople, but the only person who knew what I was talking about was David, who has an art degree. We discussed some ideas, and from there he designed the rings in an Art Nouveau style, which has no straight lines.

Bartikowsky's ring rendering
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is the rendering of my wedding and engagement rings by Bartikowsky's, the jewellers in Wilkes-Barre where David knows some people. They took his drawings, put them in a CAD program, and this is the result. The rings are meant to fit together, and David's ring looks like my engagement and wedding rings combined, except his has three small stones, like my wedding ring.

The rings went on tour over Christmas and New Year's. My wedding and engagement rings were completed two days before Christmas, and David brought them with him to Vancouver, where they made their debut and were circulated around the friends and family we'd visited over the holidays. Ordinarily I wouldn't make a point of showing people the rings, but since David designed them himself, I wanted to showcase his handiwork.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Kitchen Reno Project

I originally wrote this post on Nov 26, with the idea that I was going to write more about it, but now that David's posted the house photos to Flickr, there's a more balanced view of what the place looks like -- it's not just the raunchy-looking kitchen!!

kitchen reno project
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

kitchen reno project cont'd
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Note the clashing elements in the kitchen:

- faux brick wall
- gingham green curtains
- ceiling tile
- leaf-patterned wallpaper
- another pattern on the ceiling.

The recessed flourescent lighting doesn't help the colour scheme, either.

The House in Pennsylvania

Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
I just noticed that David uploaded some photos of the house to his Flickr album:

Fielding house

an aerial photo of the neighbourhood (the purple circle is where the house is) Posted by Hello

Gail's Balcony is No More...

Argh! I wrote a whole post, and accidentally closed down Safari! It's like a virtual stubbing of my toe! OW!


Anyway, I was saying that I can't call my blog "Gail's Balcony" anymore because, well, there is no balcony in my house in Pennsylvania... there's no ocean view... *sniff*... in fact, there's no ocean. I have to travel two hours for that, and, well, it's the Atlantic, not the Pacific. I have a porch, but it's not the same thing. "Gail's Porch" makes me feel like an old granny, all I need is a rocking chair and my knitting needles (I do faintly recall knitting as a youngin'). Karl called his blog "Karl's Deck" so maybe "Gail's Porch" isn't so bad. I think I'll stick with "gailontheweb" because that's the URL. I'll have to change my blog header photo, too... *sniff*

Actually, what my site needs is major revamp. Breigh just finished moving her blog over to MovableType, and I think she still has some hair left, so maybe it won't be as onerous as I'm dreading it to be. One thing I've been meaning to do is to put links to my friends' sites down the side panel. For one thing, it would be another way to keep track of their updates without resorting to RSS feeds.

Probably more of a priority than revamping is to re-upload the photos were hosted on my Telus webspace until Telus accidentally DELETED my internet account -- INCLUDING my webspace. If you click on my archives, you will see most of the photos are just broken links. Talk about onerous... it's going to take me simply ages to re-upload the photos, but there is no easy way around this. UGH, I need a coffee.


Well, so much for blogging more regularly. But, I have a decent excuse this week -- I'm moving!

I haven't moved in nearly 7 years, so I've accumulated more since I've been here than at probably any other time in my life. It's the longest I've ever lived in one place, and I've

-- bought a few things
-- acquired more than a few things from other people who've stayed at Hotel Gail
-- and, on occasion, still find things I never realised I had... probably more remnants from other people.

It's more than a trip down memory lane, it's a pain in the ARSE, that's what moving is. The only way I can keep from thinking of it as a pain in the arse is to take those trips down memory lane. It's not just a simple move, though. I'm shipping my life across the continent, and across a border, so it's much more complicated than changing my address and getting an amendment to my driver's license. My sister-in-law has done the same thing, in reverse. She's from a small town in Maine, while I'm going to a small town in Pennsylvania. But, they're moving again, too -- Allan and Cheryl and the five kidlets were accepted to a housing co-op in Cloverdale, a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit. I'm really glad they were able to move into a HOUSE, finally. Not only do they need more space, the co-op is family-oriented, with a playground. It's nowhere near a Skytrain station, so I'll just have to use my car co-op while I'm visiting. Thank heavens for co-ops!!

Making address changes took part of Sunday, all day Monday, and a bit of Tuesday, with one account left to cancel -- tenant's insurance with BCAA, which I have to do by fax. I spent a LOT of time listening to 'hold' music, what fun. Some of the utilities were easy -- eg. BC Hydro, which was a simple cancellation. Some were more complicated to change, like Primus, because I have two accounts with them, one for the mobile phone (I REFUSE to pay Telus Mobility's long distance rates, so I use a Primus access number to bypass Telus), the other for the fax and phone number. I had to consolidate the accounts, change the plans, then change the address. I left the worst for last: Telus. I have Telus ADSL Enhanced, hosted on my fax line. I switched my landline over to Primus VoIP last year, which makes things easier because I can keep my Vancouver phone number, and my family and friends can continue using it. I'm transferring my Telus internet over to my Vancouver address up the street (Eliza's), so I have a utility in my name in Vancouver. For a number of accounts, I don't have the option of using anything but a Canadian address, but most I can reroute to Pennsylvania.

I'm also no longer an employee of my company, I'm a consultant. Which means I'll have greatly reduced hours, and I'm in charge of my own expenses. This is my first foray into self-employment, but it's probably the best time ever to do so -- I've started a creative venture with a friend, and I need more development time. I also want to finish my degree, and this will allow me to do it without the rest of my hair going completely gray, or getting pulled out like it has been from 2001-2004.

So, the moving saga continues... at the moment I'm transferring my XP files to my Mac via a firewire drive that David borrowed from his office, but I have all sorts of Windows-based archives that must wait until I've configured Virtual PC properly, and installed the required XP files. Just the sort of late-night or early-morning activity that drives me to distraction, hence the blogging. More later, of course.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year! It's 2005

My first post of the new year. I don't want to make it a New Year's Resolution, but I hope to blog more regularly in 2005.

Check out the First Night - Vancouver photos!